A Virginia railroad is using a soy-based grease developed in Iowa to create smoother sailing for its trains. The Norfolk Southern Railway has begun using the “SoyTrak” grease created by the Agricultural Based Industrial Lubricants research program at the University of Northern Iowa.
Diane Neuzil is associate director of the ABIL program. The Norfolk Southern will probably consume one-point-six million pounds of raise grease annually, about 18-percent of the grease used in the United States. Neuzil says the grease is applied to the rails to extend the life of railcars and rails. It prevents wheel and track wear, espcially around the curves. Neuzil says they’re studying the use of the grease to see if it also helps prevent derailment.
The soy grease was first tested on the Iowa Insterstate Railway in 1998. Neuzil says the Norfolk Southern’s use of the product will involve a lot of soybeans. She says they’ll used around 160-thousand bushels of soybeans or 208-thousand gallons of soy oil. There is approximately one gallon of soyoil per eight pounds of soybeans. Nuezil says soy-based grease is biodegradable and has a lot of other benefits over the petroleum-based grease. She says it has higher “lubricity”, better adherence to metal, higher flash points, and it’s becoming more competatively priced compared to petroleum grease.
The Northfold Southern Railway is the largest carrier of cars and car parts and operates 21-thousand-500 miles of track, mainly in the eastern U.S.